Wichita Using tiny cake pans and a toy oven powered with a 100-watt light bulb, two Kansas youngsters will compete this week in New York City for the title of Easy-Bake Chef of the Year.
Sara Cole, 11, of Wichita, has spent the days before the competition perfecting the precise mixture for her Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich. And John McCune, 9, of Valley Center, has been fine-tuning the icing for his carrot cake.
The youngsters are among five finalists who will prepare their desserts Wednesday for a panel of judges at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. All the desserts must be baked in an Easy-Bake Oven.
Sara, 11, a fifth-grader at Pray-Woodman Elementary School in Maize, created her layered desert -- topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a chocolate candy -- with help from her mother, grandmother and aunt.
"She loves to cook, and she loves the Easy-Bake, so I thought, 'This is perfect,'" said Sara's mom, Kimberly Holmes.
John, who prefers soccer to cooking, had a different motivation. "He wanted to enter a contest -- any contest," said John's mother, Carolyn McCune.
So with just days before the contest deadline, John and his mother began shrinking a magazine recipe to Easy-Bake proportions and testing the concoction in an older sister's long-unused toy oven.
"It's older than I am," John said of his 14-year-old sister's oven. "But it works."
Since becoming a finalist, John has spent hours practicing the decorative carrots he pipes onto his cake using colored frosting.
"We put some waxed paper on the counter, and it was like, 'OK, it's carrot time. Let's make some carrots,"' his mom said. "He just fit this in between soccer and homework and everything else."
Sara, meanwhile, has whipped up more than a dozen Easy-Bake cake mixes. She said the trick to the Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich is knowing just how much cheesecake mixture to swirl into the cake batter, and timing everything so the ice cream doesn't turn to goo.
The winner will receive a $5,000 savings bond and a two-year supply of Easy-Bake mixes and be the namesake of an original dish created by Brooke Vosika, executive chef of the Four Seasons.
Already, Sara, John and the three other finalists -- two girls and a boy from Oklahoma, Illinois and South Carolina -- have received a trip to New York, a $1,000 savings bond, Easy-Bake mixes and a package of Hasbro toys and games.
"It's just so cool," Sara said.